Indeed, as watch brands continue to pull out all the stops when it comes to creative dial designs, the consumer is graced with a bevy of timepieces that boast unbelievable skill, innovation and master artisanry.

Additionally, as technology advances, so, too, do the number of techniques that can be employed on a watch dial. Today’s top brands are more than willing to invest in bringing ancient arts back to life in the form of a two-inch or smaller watch dial. Such arts include lacquer painting, straw and wooden marquetry, gold sculpturing and even workmanship heretofore left to other worlds such as embroidery and lace working.

Cartier has long been a master at the arts, unveiling a long line of fabulous firsts. This brand was first to unveil straw marquetry dials, first to release mosaic dials, first to demonstrate the art of rose-petal dials, and many more. This year, the brand brings the artistic jewelry technique of filigree to the forefront with its much-loved panther motif.

The all new Ronde Louis Cartier Filigree watch – created in Cartier’s new Maison des Me’tiers d’Art site in La Chaux-de-Fonds – focuses on the ancient art of filigree gold work, wherein metal wires of gold are smithed in such a way as to resemble open-worked lace.  It is an art that dates back to the Sumerians in 3000 B.C. However, Cartier’s “lace” is actually a complex set of panthers further embellished with diamonds (each also features a signature emerald eye) and strutting their three-dimensional glory on a dark starry dial. The panthers are achieved via beaten 22-karat gold and platinum micro wires that are twisted, rolled, curved into tiny rings, assembled in filigree style, and then attached to the case sides. It takes a master artisan a full month to create one filigree dial design. The watch houses the mechanical manual-wind caliber 430 MC and is created in a limited edition of just 20 pieces.

Cartier - Ronde de Louis Cartier Filigrane

Cartier Ronde Louis Cartier Filigree watch. © Cartier

Similarly, Vacheron Constantin has been demonstrating its mastery of the arts for decades, unveiling incredible painted enamel dials, and cloisonné and gemstone set dials and more. This year, in time for the Chinese Year of the Goat, the brand unveils stunning goat-motif watch dials.

Officially unveiled at SIHH, the new Legend of the Chinese Zodiac series in the Métiers d’Arts collection, the new watches feature etching, gold relief and wire work, and Grand Feu enameling techniques that all lead to a stunning dial with horned goat at the center.  The details of the goat are so beautiful that even the lines in its fleece coat measure fractions of a millimeter. The gold goat is set on either a bronze or icy blue enamel dial.  The watch is powered by the Vacheron Constantin Caliber 260 G4 movement with a hands-free time indication. In fact, the watch features four windows that reveal the hour, the minutes, the day and the date. The mechanical self-winding watch is equipped with a 22-karat gold oscillating weight adorned with the Maltese Cross motif, the brand’s historical logo.

Vacheron Constantin - Légende du Zodiaque Chinois

Vacheron Constantin Year of the Goat Metiers d’Art watch. © Vacheron Constantin

Over at Van Cleef & Arpels, diamond and gem setting steal center stage as the brand mixes advanced stone techniques with stunning enamel dial motifs. The brand is releasing flower and bird motifs that are entrancing -- offering a romantic, springtime feel.  

Van Cleef & Arpels -  Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Oiseaux de Paradis

Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Jour Nuit Oiseaux de Paradis watch. © Van Cleef & Arpels

These timepieces demonstrate just the tip of the iceberg. In a couple of months we expect to see works of art at BaselWorld from brands such as Chopard, Hermes, Chanel, Dior and Jaquet Droz. Stay tuned; we’ll bring you that story soon.